How to stay fit while on holiday

We all love an exercise routine, especially when we’re able to stick to it and see improvements. But what happens when we go on holiday? I’ve definitely found myself guilty of eating unhealthily while travelling and then struggling to motivate myself to return to the gym when I get home. This year, I’m determined to stay active throughout the year, even when a holiday results in a small break from my usual routine.

First, figure out what activities you enjoy.
Whether that’s going to the gym, bouldering, cycling, running, kayaking, yoga etc. There’s so much to choose from! Find the sports you enjoy and then build them into a weekly routine.

When you’re on holiday
You won’t be able to follow your usual fitness routine while away but you can still remain active in other ways. Try the following:

1. Park Run
If you enjoy running, you may already heard of an event called Park Run. It’s a timed 5km event held in parks across the world every Saturday at 9am. Look up whether the city you’re travelling to has a Park Run event and join in! Here’s a link to the UK Park Run events:

2. Free Walking Tour
I discovered Free Walking Tours when I first went interrailing. These tours are great for solo travellers as it’s a great way to meet new people. The idea of the tour is that you tip the tour guide at the end, based on how much you think the tour is worth. Tour guides usually talk about the history of the city, the people and languages, things to do and places to eat at. The most energetic walking tour I did was in Sintra, Portugal. We hiked up to the fairytale castles.

Sintra, Portugal (April, 2018)

3. Rent a bike
Whether that’s a public city bike, road bike or mountain bike, get cycling! My favourite cycling adventure abroad was in Meteora, Greece. We rented mountain bikes in the town and then cycled all the way up to the monasteries. The views were beautiful!

Meteora, Greece (Sep 2020)

4. Go on a hike
I love hiking (see my post on hiking in Wales!). There are so many opportunities to hike or walk when on holiday. Here are a few of my favourites.

Nafplion, Greece. A hike to the fortress on the hill. Sep, 2020
Grande-Dixance Dam, Switzerland (Summer, 2017).
Wildspitz, Switzerland (Nov 2018)
Albanian Alps, June 2018

5. Watersports
If you’re by a sea or lake, you could go kayaking, canoeing, sailing, swimming and more.

Lake Komani, Albania (June, 2018)

6. Other ideas
Yoga on the beach, indoor/outdoor bouldering and climbing, via ferrata, skiing, ice skating, paragliding, scuba diving.

Is interrailing worth it?

An interrail pass is a travel pass that allows you to travel all around Europe for a set number of travel days or travel period, without booking individual train tickets. It’s a single pass that can be used on most trains throughout Europe, the Eurostar and some ferries. The pass offers travellers flexibility and the opportunity to travel cheaply. A great way of visiting many countries in just a few days or weeks!

I have been interrailing twice (blog post about that to follow shortly). The first time I interrailed, I travelled alone for two weeks around Europe. The second time was for a week with a friend. Was it worth it? Definitely! Interrailing is a very unique experience and a great way of seeing many places in a short space of time.

Liechtenstein, April 2016

I would definitely recommend everyone to try interrailing at least once. However, it’s not suited to all trip types. Whether interrailing is worth it for you really depends on what sort of trip you are planning, where you want to go and how much you want to spend.

Here are my top reasons for why you should consider interrailing around Europe:

An interrail pass can work out to be cheaper than flying to multiple countries or buying individual train tickets
An interrail pass will cost a few hundred euros, depending on the type of pass you buy. Considering you can then use this pass on all trains in European countries, it saves you the cost of buying individual tickets for expensive train routes. I travelled to seven countries in 2 weeks during my first interrailing experience, really making full use of the pass.

You can visit many countries in a short space of time
The interrailing pass can be used on night trains and long distance trains between countries. This allows you to cross country borders very quickly. One day you’re in Salzburg, the next morning you wake up in Vienna. This is the magic of the pass. As a bonus, taking a night train doesn’t use up two travel days since you started your travel the day before.

You’ll meet a lot of cool people
When travelling by train, you’ll meet many interesting people who may also be backpacking around Europe. Before you know it, you’ll have new connections all over the continent which means more people to share travel tips with!

You’ll learn to travel minimally
When I interrailed, I took a 35L backpack with me and nothing else. I suffered a little since I didn’t take any moisturiser or enough warm clothes – I travelled in January and it was freezing! But this was certainly a character building experience. It taught me what is essential and what I could leave behind.

You’ll learn about the history and culture of different countries
I’ve met a few people from outside of Europe who have been surprised to see how different the cultures and landscapes of different European countries are. There’s definitely a lot to learn when travelling and a lot to take in when seeing so many places.

You learn to appreciate the entire continent
When you fly to a country, you land and you leave. But train travel around Europe allows you to appreciate the connections between all the countries, learn more about the languages spoken in different areas and gain a better understanding of the geography of Europe. By the time you’ve finished planning your route and exploring Europe, you’ll definitely be wanting to return to see more!

Sarajevo, April 2016

Now here are some reasons why interrailing may not be suited to your trip, or just points to bare in mind if you do go interrailing:

Reservation fees
Once you’ve bought an interrail pass, you can jump onto most trains for free. However, there are some exceptions. For most night trains, you need to book a reservation. Reservations are also required for high speed trains in France and a lot of long distance trains in Italy. Reservation fees vary in price. It really depends on which route you’re taking. The interrailing rail planner app allows you to see which trains require reservations and allows you to avoid those routes if you’d prefer. You can also book your reservations through interrail.
For travelling to many different countries, an interrail pass is definitely worth it, even with the reservations. But if you’re just getting a one country pass, it would be worth checking how many reservations you would have to make and whether this takes away from the flexibility of the trip.

Fast paced
To make the most out of your pass and to see as much as possible, it’s likely you won’t be staying in each place for more than a day or two. For example, I only stayed in Amsterdam for one day before taking the night train to Berlin. This does mean that you don’t have enough time in each city to really experience everything you want. You may well just end up doing the obvious touristy things. But for a first time travelling to these countries, that might be OK for you. Interrailing gives you a flavour of many places and you can return in the future to stay in one place and explore it more.
Fast paced can also mean there’ll be a lot of walking. You’re constantly on the move, ready for your next destination.

Night trains
Night trains are a great way of saving travel days and getting to your next country quickly. However, experiences on these trains can vary. A lot of night trains I took when I interrailed felt a bit sketchy. Instead of booking a sleeper/couchette, I just reserved a seat on the train. Some of these seats recline. But sleeping on a seat in a train is not that comfortable. It was also quite cold. Sometimes I’d hear strange noises in the corridor which was quite scary when I was travelling by myself and sitting in a carriage alone. When crossing borders, the police sometimes come on board to check people’s ID. Trains sometimes stop for up to an hour on the border too. If you have to change trains at night, you might end up waiting for ages at a small station in the cold. Overall, it was very character building and I’m still glad I had all those experiences. Night trains with friends feel less sketchy though and if you pay extra for a couchette, you’ll definitely sleep better. I once took a night train from Krakow to Bratislava where I did book a couchette…and that felt perfectly safe and comfortable.

Limited train networks in some countries
Trains in Western and Central Europe are fantastic. When I travelled in the Balkans however, I found that the train network was more limited. To get from Zagreb to Sarajevo, I had to take a 6 hour bus. From Sarajevo to Split, I took another 6 hour bus. The buses were fairly cheap though. And the interrail pass still saved me the cost of individual train tickets from Switzerland to Austria to Hungary etc. It’s just worth checking beforehand what the train network in the countries you want to travel to is like. For the Balkans, I would definitely recommend getting around by bus or renting a car.

Going back to the original question, is interrailing worth it?

If you are adventurous and want to travel to many different countries in just a week or two, interrailing is definitely worth it. The global pass for interrailing will save you a lot of money and you’ll have plenty of unique experiences along the way. For single country travelling, it’s definitely worth checking how much reservation fees total up to and how good the train network is. I’m really glad I interrailed and the positives far outweigh the negatives. Yes some night trains felt a bit dodgy but when I woke up to see the sunrise in Venice or scenic mountainous landscapes, I was glad to have continued my travelling journey. And hey, I did end up interrailing twice so I must have enjoyed it!

Lake Bled, April 2016

Why organised travelling is ok

Spontaneous travel always looks so exciting – the last minute adventures, the quirky stories, the scenic photos. We’ve reached a point where we’re being told that spontaneous travel is the best way to travel because that’s the only way to truly have unique experiences. There are so many articles and blogs out there about how to travel spontaneously. But what if you like planning and organisation? What if itineraries make you feel at ease? I always plan my holidays. And I’m still able to have lots of wacky adventures and encounters with new people. Organised travelling is not boring or over timetabled. It’s just a more thought out form of travelling where adventure can still follow.

Spontaneous travel seems to work well for people who travel for months on end. But I’m not a full time traveller. I have a 9-5 job that I love so I can only travel during my yearly annual leave allowance. I want to optimise that time off. So if I’m travelling to Greece for 2 weeks, I will definitely research where I want to go, what I want to see, and then lay out a rough plan. For me, having a plan for each trip is an essential backbone. I can deviate from the plan if I want, but there’ll always be a plan to fall back on.

So here are my top 7 reasons for why organised travelling is still a great way to travel for many people:

Perfect for first time travellers
My first travelling experience was back in 2016 when I interrailed around Europe for 2 weeks. For a first time traveller, having a plan is very useful. You won’t have previous learning experiences to fall back on so it’s wise to have a rough itinerary of where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, train times, hostel locations etc. You might end up overpreparing but for your first time exploring the world, there’s really nothing wrong with that. Travelling for the first time can make you feel nervous, especially if solo travelling. So if you put in enough time to organise the trip in advance, you’re less likely to feel like you’re going out into the unknown.

Perfect for solo travellers
As a girl travelling alone, there have been plenty of people to question whether it’s safe for me to do that, while never posing the same question to my male colleagues or friends. We all worry for our safety when travelling alone. Planning a trip in detail can mean ensuring you have somewhere to sleep every night, having a list of emergency contact details, ensuring you have a phone plan that can be used abroad, sharing your route with your family and friends, researching areas to avoid etc. Trip planning can sometimes feel like doing a risk assessment. There’s always something unexpected that could happen, but it feels reassuring to have considered safety abroad as part of your trip planning.

Minimise spending
This is a big one. If you’re on a tight budget, then planning ahead just makes sense. Spontaneously deciding to go to Italy in a week’s time vs deciding this 2 months in advance will often result in very different amounts of money being spent. Likewise with booking accommodation. If you’re travelling for a few weeks, the cost of accommodation can really pile up. If you are planning a trip where you move from place to place, it can be reassuring to have all the accommodation booked in advance. You’ll also save money by avoiding last minute bookings.

Ideal for travelling with a large group of people
When you’re travelling with a group of friends, it helps to be organised about where everyone will meet, what time you’ll set off, what activities people want to do and what to bring. I once organised a trip to the Lake District for myself and nine friends. As part of the trip planning, I put together a kit list. Everyone had access to this list but I didn’t think my friends would actually read it. To my surprise, when we arrived at the hostel, three people pulled an extension lead out of their bags! And hardly anyone had brought a swimsuit since I’d accidentally missed that off the list. But hey, the list turned out to be very useful and everyone really appreciated the organisation.
Another thing with group travelling is that people may have different expectations. Some people may prefer to relax on the beach all day whereas others may want to go on daily hikes. It’s good to talk about this beforehand to ensure that there’s something in the holiday for everyone.

Efficient use of time while on holiday
It’s a good idea to have a rough look at what there is to do in the place you’re travelling to. You don’t have to plan what you will be doing every hour of the day (despite enjoying planning, I never go to this length). But just research what there is to do there. So when you’re on holiday, you know what’s available. Yes, you’ll discover new things to do along the way. But it’s still helpful having a couple of activities in your back pocket for if you’re really stuck for things to do. This is particularly helpful if you’re going to multiple destinations during one trip.

Useful for road trips
Say you’re going to France for 2 weeks and you want to stop off at many locations along the way. You’ll want to decide beforehand where you want to spend each night. Especially if you want to save money by booking accommodation in advance. You may also need to check if your driving routes and distances are feasible and whether your proposed route will fit within two weeks. While you’re on the trip, you might spontaneously decide to do a day trip to a nearby village or stop off at a town on your way to a planned destination. And that’s fine. But having a plan for the overall route is still useful because you’ll know where you’re staying each night and what time to set off for your next destination.

Essential backbone for the trip
Overall, the plan is just a guide for your trip. You can drift away from the plan if you discover better things to do while you’re on holiday. You could always change where you’re staying one night if you discover you prefer one location to another. But having a plan for the trip means there’s something to fall back on. You can have spontaneous adventures around the plan. You can speak to new people, discover new parts of the city, experience new activities and more. Planning out your trip and having an itinerary just means that you’re not landing in a new country clueless and that you’ve done your research. Planning a trip is exciting – it allows you to really learn about where you’re travelling to with the aim of getting the most out of your visit, while still leaving room for flexibility.